Sedona, Antelope Canyon, & Horseshoe Bend
...August!? July really flew by with just one posting?
Last week, S. & I took a few days to get out of Tucson--up north to slightly cooler temperatures in Red Rock Country: Sedona, about 4 1/2 hours north...
The red is not exaggerated...
Sedona is striking.
About three hours north of Sedona, just south of the Utah border in high Navajo country,
is Antelope Canyon, one of the slot canyons in the four corners area:
You can see why it's called a 'slot canyon.'
About a quarter-mile long, it's a surreal landscape of light and erosion...
You can only get there by means of a guided-tour, mostly run by the Navajo;
you ride out of town in the back of a pick-up or a jeep, and then down a three-mile long sandy wash;
feels like the Outback of Australia...and then you end up in this ethereal curving chasm, constantly craning your neck to look up:
It isn't always a place for solitude--but the tour-groups pass through relatively quickly, and then you're left to yourself...The Navajo guide we had was a bit gruff--but mainly from his frustration at not being able to communicate effectively with his group; he asked 'who here speaks English?' Only Sara and I raised our hands. ALL the rest were European tourists, mostly French! (Will admit--had fun eavesdropping on summer family-vacation-conversations...) Seriously--there were way more foreign tourists than there were Americans...strong Euro-Dollar exchange rate, perhaps...
|The narrow winding passage, even when crowded, stays quiet; people are so busy gawking and taking pictures that there aren't many conversations--some quiet under-breath 'wow's and 'cool's and 'amazing's...|
...all from the elegant simplicity of water flowing through sandstone...
A few miles away, just south of the town of Page, AZ,
in the gorge where the Colorado River flows south from Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam, is Horseshoe Bend.
Here's my wife's point-of-view:
It's one of the most-photographed spots on the Colorado River, and I'd always assumed it was very remote--probably accessible only after a long hike...a scene to be captured by overnight-backpackers.
Surprisingly, the hiking trail is only three-quarters of a mile long--you park right off the highway and then trudge over tumbleweed-and-sand for a few minutes...From the road you have no idea what awaits you, as the gorge lies behind a slight rise...and then you walk to the edge, and there it is:
The scene is so vast that, unless you have special lenses, you can't take the whole scene in one photo. It took me five shots to fit it all in--I then stitched it together above, and then 'fixed' the distortions below:
No guard-rail, no interpretive center--just you and the view. (A few weeks prior, a man got too close to a crumbly part of the cliffside and fell hundreds of feet to his death...)
As was in the case in Antelope Canyon, there weren't many 'fellow Americans' around--most of the onlookers were French--including a couple vanfuls of French teenagers with their chaperones on a summer-vacation high-school-group trip. Predictably, one of the guys had to stand close to the edge, raise his hands up, and yell--like in "Titanic:" "Je suis le maître du monde!" ("I'm king of the world!")
Très original, mon ami...
Here--proof that we were there...
...and, I bit the bullet--after doing a few 5-k's, I have committed myself to something longer: the annual Saguaro National Park Labor Day Run. I am by no means trying to be a 'competitive' runner--but the goal of a specific-date-and-distance helps keep me focused...My goal is to feel good and be a solid middle-of-the-pack runner this time...maybe a half-marathon will be a goal for next year? (and then...a marathon before 40?) The route is super-scenic--it's an 8-mile loop, up and down, up and down, on the eastern edge of the Tucson basin, at the foot of the Rincon Mountains. Click on the site below for more info...
( photo below from the official website: http://www.azroadrunners.org/races/detail/saguaro )
(this was the 2008 race t-shirt logo,
showing the topography of the 8-mile loop: 2860 to 3220 ft.)
This morning while on the loop, (I've been doing it once a week), I had to ford some modest seasonal streams; the monsoon has done its job and the foothills of the Rincon mountains are wet with the remnants of the past week's rain. In one of the streams, flowing strong, I saw tons of tadpoles!
Hurry up little guys! Will you make it to frog-hood? Will you sprout legs of maturity and hop away before the streams revert to mud and then to terra cotta?
Ah--the last days of 'summer vacation' in Tucson...